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Seat belt law passes committee again

ST. PAUL - The Minnesota Senate Transportation Committee passed a familiar bill Tuesday - to allow police to stop a driver who is not wearing a seat belt.

"Plain and simple - this law works," said Sen. Steve Murphy, DFL-Red Wing, who for years has pushed the legislation. "Wearing seat belts saves lives on our roads. It's absolutely heart-wrenching for our committee to hear from the families of those tragically killed in car crashes, knowing that many of these deaths were entirely preventable had their loved one been buckled up."

The senator, chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, said 30 lives would be saved and 400 injuries prevented a year if the bill passes.

The proposal easily passed by a voice vote, with a few "no" votes being heard.

Murphy aid the state will lose $3.4 million of federal funds if the bill does not pass.

The bill has other committee stops before reaching the full Senate, which has passed the measure in the past. It faces a tougher time passing the House.

State law already requires seat belt use, but law enforcement officers can issue tickets only if vehicles are stopped for other reasons.